Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Debate over Terry Kemple scuttles Hillsborough diversity panel

An email by Terry Kemple referred to a “homosexual agenda.”
Published May 16, 2013

TAMPA — A debate over one man's proposed appointment to a diversity committee led Hillsborough County commissioners on Wednesday to scuttle plans for the panel — for now.

The panel was proposed by Democrat Kevin Beckner, an openly gay commissioner, to recommend ways the county could be more welcoming to people of various cultures. As envisioned, it would have included representatives of a number of ethnic and racial backgrounds, as well as gays and people with disabilities.

The prospective appointee in question is Hillsborough County School Board candidate Terry Kemple, who has led repeated campaigns to block actions by local government that would legitimize homosexuality.

In an email to members of his Christian advocacy group, the Community Issues Council, Kemple said the proposed diversity council likely was "code for some effort to forward the homosexual agenda." Further, the email said, this was not the sort of "important work" commissioners should be doing.

Nevertheless, he applied for an appointment and was initially assigned a slot as a person of Northern and Southern European heritage.

When Beckner obtained a copy of Kemple's email, he had it forwarded to the National Diversity Council, which the county had asked to assist vet applicants.

The head of the national organization said the email should disqualify Kemple. But Kemple told the county he still wished to be considered, which touched off a heated debate Wednesday.

The two main participants were Beckner and Republican Victor Crist, who generally enjoy a collegial relationship. That would not have been obvious from the exchange, which grew louder and louder.

After getting assurances from Kemple that he intended to be a collegial participant and not a "grenade thrower," Crist recommended he be included.

Crist: "To exclude anyone or anyone's perspective from that process really, you know, shoots in the eye of what we're trying to accomplish here."

Beckner: To "use your personal opinions to try to create public policy that discriminates, promotes hatred, bigotry and divides this community, that is where the line must be drawn. … Those types of individuals should not be involved in this type of a process."

Crist: "The bottom line is there's a constituency out there in our county that are voters and residents that thinks and feels the same way as Mr. Kemple does and to say they don't deserve a seat at the table is being exclusive. … We have to begin allowing everyone an opportunity to be able to look everybody straight in the eye and speak their piece and work out their solution."

Beckner: "I would ask everybody here, if you saw an email — and just replace homosexual with disabilities, replace it with woman — if part of the mission of that board is to promote inclusiveness and diversity and yet an individual's on that board and they don't believe that to begin with, why should that individual be included or have a seat on that board?"

Commissioners ultimately voted 4-3 to support Kemple's appointment, with Republicans Crist, Chairman Ken Hagan, Sandy Murman and Al Higginbotham agreeing to include him as an amendment.

That's when Democrat Les Miller pulled a procedural maneuver. Having made the original motion to approve the appointment list without Kemple, he then moved to table its final approval indefinitely. Hagan joined that bloc, joining Miller, Beckner and Republican Commissioner Mark Sharpe in agreeing to table a vote.

Prevailing commissioners can bring the matter back up later.

In the meantime, Beckner plans to keep diversity — specifically as it relates to gay rights — front and center. He told commissioners at the end of the meeting that he plans to ask them to lift a 2005 ban on county government recognition of gay pride events.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Courtney Wild, 30, was a victim of serial sexual offender Jeffrey Epstein beginning at the age of 14. Epstein paid Wild, and many other underage girls, to give him massages, often having them undress and perform sexual acts. Epstein also used the girls as recruiters, paying them to bring him other underage girls. Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
    Courtney Wild’s relentless quest for justice has led to a bipartisan push for sweeping reforms.
  2. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference on Sept. 25, in Davie. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Naples lawyer Dudley Goodlette was threatened shortly after he made his recommendation last month.
  3. Rep. Jamie Grant, R- Tampa and Senator Jeff Brandes, R- St. Petersburg listen to Amendment 4 debate in the Florida Senate on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    “I think some of the points of the judge were well-made," Sen. Jeff Brandes said.
  4. Tiffany Carr — shown during a 2004 visit to a Hollywood nail salon, where she spoke on domestic violence — did not respond this past week to requests from the Miami Herald to address her $761,560 annual salary. She is head of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. [Bob Eighmie Miami Herald file photo]
    The Florida Department of Children and Families started a review of a domestic violence nonprofit’s finances last summer after it was reported that its CEO Tiffany Carr was paid $761,000. The state...
  5. Pinellas County teachers and their allies rallied at major intersections in 2012 to protest legislative proposals. [Jim Damaske, Times]
    Details are still scant, but the House’s tone was one of being fiscally cautious as they evaluate DeSantis’ pitch to raise base teacher pay.
  6. Igor Fruman - Lev Parnas Miami Herald
    Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — now subpoenaed to turn over documents in the impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump — sought to invest in one of Florida’s state-issued cannabis licenses.
  7. Term-limited GOP Commissioner Sandy Murman is filed in the clerk’s race but may not run there. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
    At this point, William March writes, there are no declared Republican candidates for the open clerk of court and tax collector seats or the two open county commission seats.
  8. [SKIP O'ROURKE   | Times]
    It’s unclear if there will be any proposed changes to this method for measuring teachers’ impact on their students’ performance, despite complaints.
  9. Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor, announces his education proposals in front of Franklin Middle Magnet School in Tampa last month. He says he wants to reduce "bureaucratic waste and administrative inefficiency" in Florida schools. But many educators say their budgets are already cut to the bone. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
    DeSantis said Wednesday he will call for expanding state oversight of septic tanks, developing better oversight of wastewater and stormwater systems and requiring the state to track agricultural...
  10. In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, file photo, a woman using an electronic cigarette exhales in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File) TONY DEJAK  |  AP
    “We’re looking at it, we’re going to be thorough in our investigation, and we will hold accountable any companies that are intentionally targeting and misleading our youth regarding vaping products,”...
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement